angola

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The Return of Yellow Fever
Before the horrors of the latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa could begin to fade from our minds, the Zika virus emerged as a major global health risk, and is now occupying researchers and doctors in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Yet the death toll from another virus is rising fast: yellow fever.
By Melvin Sanicas

Angola is currently suffering the worst yellow fever outbreak in 30 years.

Kalandula Falls, Angola.

Kalandula Falls are waterfalls in the municipality of Kalandula, Malanje Province, Angola. On the Lucala River, the falls are 105 meters high and 400 meters wide.They are one of the largest waterfalls by volume in Africa.The distance from Luanda is 360 km.

For me, African artists are the natural heirs of an important heritage, a cultural and artistic heritage with powerful ways of expression. Our ancestors tended to live in societies that developed elaborate relationships with art—far more intertwined than in Europe, for instance. For them, the power in art came from the act of giving potent, ritually charged physical form to the invisible world. So, in an African context, artworks tend to possess a transcendence. In this way African artists through the ages have been empowered by the very act of creation. Many of our young artists—those in their 30s such as Nástio Mosquito and Binelde Hyrcan—are quite comfortable proposing original and often powerful video works and performance pieces because they understand where they’re coming from. In a sense, African art is not about representation as much as it is about communion.

As far as new artists in other areas, what I always try to do is to dispel the perception that Africa is being rediscovered every other year. That’s something that we really suffer from. Art in Africa is a continuum from generation to generation, and as such, I think the African artistic scene really needs to look at itself in terms of a timeline, as an evolution, and as a progression. I think for an African artist, what is very important for me is, how relevant is he within his context? Does he have the vision, as Cocteau once said, to “remember the future,” to dream of something that is structured and elegant, and to create a world that is complete and consistent with the context that we live in?

Sindika Dokolo - Congo-born, Angola-based businessman

QUEEN NZINGA: THE UNCONQUERABLE

“Greatness was born out of the savage oppression of the Africans and out of that oppression it grew like a giant. Just why the Portuguese drew so much blood with the lash from already chained and helpless slaves is beyond all human understanding since, if for no other reason, the victims were “articles of commerce” and the source of the very riches slavers sought. Besides, over half of the captured Blacks died before reaching their destination. Self-interest, then, should have stayed the murderous hands of the slavers. Nothing did, and that fact was one of the reasons that Queen Nzinga said that the real savages in Africa were the whites. They created the conditions that brought her to the fore. The Portuguese were so aggressive in their program for dividing the blacks and keeping them fighting among themselves that they overshot the mark, simply went too far. The system of spreading out over the country into the provinces and allying themselves with the various chiefs has been mentioned more than once. But after 1608 the commander-in-chief of the Portuguese army tightened the noose. This was Bento Cardoso. Under his plan Angola was to be further depopulated by a massive onslaught for slaves through a closely coordinated system in which every chief in the land would be “owned”  By a Portuguese and directly responsible to him for a stated quota of slaves. This would bypass the Angolan King (Of Ndongo) to whom the provincial chiefs paid their taxes in slaves….Chiefs failing to secure the required number of slaves were themselves enslaved. Over a hundred chiefs and other notables were sold into slavery in a single year and another hundred murdered by the Portuguese.The Angolan King, who had been cooperating with the slaves traders, now saw himself being ruined on all fronts, losing his people and his profits. He therefore began to resist the Portuguese

It Paid off. Both the portugese and their Jaga allies were checked, and the war dragged on year after year…. Eventually the pope intervened, insisting that the wholesale slaughter be ended and peace be pursued. The peace conference was held at Luanda (1622). The Black delegation was headed by the country’s ablest and most uncompromising diplomat, Ann Nzinga, not yet queen, but sister of the king - the woman power behind a weak king, and one of the most responsible for inspiring the people to continue war of resistance when every hope was gone, unless she herself had become their last hope. But even before the peace conference began, and at the risk of wrecking it, the governor’s Caucasian arrogance could not be restrained. He had decided on a studied insult at the outset by providing chairs in the conference room only for himself and his councilors, with the idea of forcing the black princess to stand humbly before his noble presence. He remained seated of course, staring haughtily as she entered the room. She took in the situation at a glance with a contemptuous smile, while her attendants moved with a swiftness that seemed to suggest that they had anticipated this stupid behavior by the Portuguese. They quickly rolled out the beautifully designed royal carpet they had brought before Nzinga, after which one of them went down on all fours and expertly formed himself into a “royal throne” upon which the princess sat easily without being a strain on her devoted follower.

Yet she rose at regular intervals, knowing that other attendants were vying for the honor of thus giving to these whites still another defeat. I gather from the different ways this incident is reported that the Western mind is unable to grasp its real meaning. Some historians saw it as a cruel and in-human use of slaves, ignoring the fact that Nzinga’s chief claim to fame was that she was the greatest abolitionist of slavery, that she herself had no slaves and, indeed, had not the slightest need for any. One reason might be be that she was so much loved and even blindly followed by her people that it was believed that all would die, to the last man and woman, following her leadership. Such were the men, not slaves, who gladly formed human couch before the astonished Portuguese for their leader.

She faced the Portuguese governor and spoke as a ruler of the land, and not as a subject of the king of Portugal. She did not recognize the man in the big chair as governor because she did recognize the existence of a Portuguese “colony of Angola.” She only saw before her what her people had seen approaching their shores over a hundred years before - pompous white devils bent on the destruction of the non-white world.

Nzinga became queen in 1623, and went into action at once. Her first major move was to send an ultimatum to the Portuguese authorities demanding the immediate execution of the terms of the treaty, otherwise war would be declared. Nzinga’s greatest act however, probably the one that makes her one of the greatest women in history, was in 1624 when she declared all territory in Angola over which she had control as free country, all slaves reaching it from whatever quarter were forever free, She went further. Since it was clear to her that white power in Africa rested squarely on the use of black troops against black people, she understood the first and only carefully organized effort to undermine and destroy the effective employment and use of black soldiers by whites.The first and only Black leader in history who was ever known to undertake such a task. She had carefully selected groups of her own soldiers to infiltrate the Portuguese black armies, first separating and spreading out individually into Portuguese held territory and allowing themselves to be “induced” by Portuguese recruiting agents to join their forces.

The quiet effective work of Nzinga’s agents among the black troops of Portugal was one of the most glorious, yet unsung, pages in African history. For whole companies rebelled and deserted to the colors of the black queen, taking with them the much needed guns and ammunition which she had been unable to secure except by swiftly moving surprise attacks on enemy units. The Queen’s armies were further strengthen by the runaway slaves who streamed into the only certain haven for the free on the whole continent of Africa. To the Portuguese, Queen Nzinga had passed the last word in unheard of audacity when she was able to influence scores of vassal chiefs to rebel against them and join the cause of their own race.This was too much.This woman had to be destroyed. It had come to that.

The Portuguese captured her stronghold in the Cuanza river in July 1626…With Nzinga’s flight from Angola it appeared that the black menace was over and victory complete. Aidi Kilujani was crowned King Phillip I of Ndongo. But the solidarity of the Blacks remained unbroken, however and their loyalty to Nzinga remained steadfast. She was “just away for a little while,”and would soon return. Any child in the most distant bush could tell you that their Queen was “just away on business.” So who was this Phillip? His name said he was a Portuguese, so he couldn’t be king of Ndongo. All Angolan kings and queens were so African that they couldn’t be tricked out of their own African names. The Queen herself had dropped “Ann” from her name when she discovered that baptizing a Black into Christianity meant surrendering his soul and body not to any Christ, but to the white man. And oral tradition further has it that the people not only rejected “Phillip I,” but made fun of the very idea that he considered himself to be king. Their blind faith in their Queen and the certainty of her return, according to the same oral record, was not really so blind. Those who understood the coded drum messages spread the news that all guerilla attacks which occurred throughout the land were attacks which were personally directed by the queen and that, in fact, she was raising a new army of liberation. Her loyal chiefs and people in Ndongo were to stand by, ready.


In November, 1627, She crossed the borders back into her country at the head of a strong army, made stronger & stronger as her loyal chiefs and wildly cheering people, including her fanatically devoted freed men, flocked to her standard as she swept forward to recapture the Cuanza stronghold held by Phillip I and put him to flight. The Portuguese continued to be amazed at this display of black unity and under a woman’s leadership at that. Black unity was now seen clearly as Black Power, and that meant an unconquerable people. The Portuguese were resolved to break that unity and the power that developed from it. The revolt against them had become general as Nzinga’s victorious forces advanced. The Portuguese retreated to their own strongholds on the coast, giving the “Dutch threat” as an excuse and not the threat of being annihilated by the Queen’s forces.

As there was in fact no immanent Dutch threat, the Portuguese regrouped and strengthened their forces for an all-out war to destroy Nzinga and this time, not to cease fighting until this was done. They began by giving orders and offering a big reward for her capture, dead or alive. Their slave troops, still the backbone of the Portuguese armed forces, were given the special inducements of land and freedom for her capture Realizing that such an all-out attempt to capture her meant that countless thousand of her people would die in her defense,  she outwitted the Portuguese again by slipping out of the country, instructing her lieutenants to spread the word everywhere that she had fled the country and, mistakenly entering the territory of an enemy, had been killed. There was general weeping and mourning throughout Ndong, real weeping and mourning, because the masses believed the story to be true. So did the Portuguese. The only reason for the war having been removed by providence, the Bishop could celebrate a special mass in celebration of this special blessing, and the colony of Angola could at at last be organized.

Then in 1629 the Portuguese stood aghast when Queen Nzinga “burst upon them from the grave ,” sweeping all opposition before her. She brought in her fierce Jaga allies (rivals), apparently wiling to do even this to defeat whites. The Portuguese were completely defeated. She had not only retaken her own country, but had, meanwhile become Queen of Matamba also, having replaced the weak Queen there. Nzinga was now an empress of two countries. She now redoubled her campaign against slavery and the slave trade by making both Ndongo and Matamba havens for all who could escape from the slaver by rebelling otherwise. Chiefs engaged in the traffic in nearby states now stood in fear of her wrath. The Portuguese saw “the writing on the wall.” In order order not to lose every foothold in the area, Lisbon suddenly remembered that it had never carried out the treaty signed with Nzinga in 1622, and declared that Portugal’s wars against her had been unjust! High level embassies were sent to the queen in 1639 in efforts to effect a settlement. Nzinga received them listened to their protestants of eternal friendship, and went ahead with determination in reorganizing both of the kingdoms and undermining colonial rule in areas held by the enemy. That every white man in Africa was an enemy of the Blacks was a matter about which there was no room for debate in her mind.

Even the holy robes of the priests in Angola not only covered their real mission as agents of the empire, but also covered their insatiable lust for the black bodies of their helpless slave girls. She had been forced by the actualities of black-white relations to distrust all whites, along with their tricky treaties.”

“By 1656, tired and weary from four decades of relentless struggles, she signed a treaty that was revised and made acceptable to her. There was seven more years of a busy life for Queen Nzinga - pushing reconstruction, the resettlement of ex-slaves, and undertaking the development of an economy of free men and women that would be able to succeed without the slave trade.

In the heart torn state of national mourning (Queen Nzinga’s death 1663) the  Queen’s council permitted two priests to come in and perform the last rites of the Church. Since the Queen had renounced the catholic religion many years before her passing, and had banned missions from her country as centers of subversion, this appearance of priests at the royal bedside may be explained either as a once a Catholic always a Catholic theory, or as an attempt by Catholic Portugal to give the appearance of final victory on all fronts. In this case it would mean that the most unconquerable of foes, recanting and submissive, had been conquered by their religion in the end. And so it is written in the official documents of Portugal, the written record used by almost all historians of Africa, that Nzinga had returned to the church that had baptized her as “Ann”. Yet she was one of the very first Blacks to see that the Portuguese conquests, the slave trade, and the Church were all inseparably one in the same. The long years of warfare had been equally against all three..The unholy trinity. And she had never surrendered. In 1963, three hundred years after her death, her people, now catholic themselves, did not believe she had returned to the church.”

- Chancellor Williams, THE DESTRUCTION OF BLACK CIVILIZATION.